March Review 2020

So, March was like living through the pages of a thriller or science-fiction novel. Possibly it is similar to a historical memoir, such as Defoe’s experiences of the Plague.  March will be one of those shared human experiences which will be remembered and discussed in the future.  For now, the impacts are wide-ranging and are no-where clear as I write this March Review at the start of April.

Writing has obviously taken a back seat for me during March.  Living on the edge of London and working in an inner-city school, has seen the typical routine of Spring smashed to pieces.  The last two weeks of term, the school was closed, and remote learning was provided to the pupils.  This has been a very interesting experience, which was far more time-consuming than I expected.  At the same time, I also had the misfortune, or maybe the fortune, of having to self-isolate in line with Government requirements. This lasted a total of fourteen days.  Due to the evolving identification of coronavirus symptoms, we couldn’t take any risks, even though the illness was likely a heavy cold and had been lingering around the house for several weeks.

Of course, the experience of self-isolation and social distancing is significantly different from the fortnight before the schools were closed in England.  While still travelling to work with a heavy cold, I was less than popular on the emptying commuter trains.  At the time, the advice was vast quantities of mucus and a chesty cough, were not symptoms of coronavirus.  Around us, everything was closing down, with people encouraged to work from home.  There was also the steep reduction of pupils present at school as parents decided to keep their children at home, either unprepared to risk their health or suspicious of the positive messages from the Government.  The more vulnerable pupils and staff were rightly concerned about the risks of exposure, especially as the Government seemed to be pursuing a ‘herd immunity’ theory.  More than one pupil drew parallels to the Spanish Flu and waves of the Plague, especially as the history of medicine is one of the examination units we teach. Several also questioned the Government policies, making good reference to historical approaches to infectious illness.  It is unfortunate, but wise given the circumstances, the eldest of these pupils will not be able to test their skills through the examination process. Fortunately, Government advice for the UK changed and the lessons of the past have had a greater influence on policy.

Therefore, since we have all been living through a variation of an old Dean Koontz or Stephen King novel, or blockbuster movies starring Dustin Hoffman or Jude Law attempting an Australian accent, I’ve been really unfocused with my writing.  I know I’m in the same situation as many other writers, with this a frequent focus of online conversations.  I suspect I’m much the same as most other people in countries operating some degree of lockdown.  Watching and reading the news now consumes an even more significant amount of my time than it used to.

March Review – word counts

The word count during March has been meagre.  The main reason has been the disruption of the regular routine and spectating of world events.  Writing fiction, while fiction happens around you, is not really easy. It’s hard to focus.

So March only totalled 4,837 words, a daily average of 156.  This is low as my primary target for the month was 12,000.  There were twenty days on which I wrote no new fiction, many of them in the first half of the month when still commuting and drained by the constant news.

To avoid completely losing the time, I have refocused on some editing tasks which had been slipping.  However, these do not create new word counts, even though they are necessary, so not every non-writing day was lost to the creative process.

Will I make up my writing total by the end of the year?  Highly likely.  There are always ebbs and flows with writing.  While I can get hung up with daily totals, I know during holidays, I write at a far higher pace than other times. I’ll therefore quickly make up any shortfall in the summer holidays.  Also, while the schools remain closed, I may be able to find a replacement routine for working during my daily commute.

March Review – writing projects underway

· I completed two short stories.  One was the genie story I nearly finished in February.  The other was writing the central part of a short story I started while covering an English lesson. I had started this to help model a task for some pupils, putting it aside to finish at a later time as I liked the idea.  This second story featured a deceptive old lady.  I may well upload both stories to the blog at some point, but will sit on them for a while before editing.

· ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series is now at the top of the proof-reading list, and I’ve already scheduled it in for checking over the next month.

· The paperback version of Blood, Mud and Corpses was successfully released. I’m pleased with how it looks and have a couple of copies myself.

· Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral is still awaiting editing and is third in the editing queue.

· Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is now second in the editing queue.

· Tigers on the Western Front – the final-proof reading was nearly finished in time to be included in the March Review, with just one more chapter to check before uploading the ebook 2nd edition.

· I have started plotting the third book in the Butcher’s Funeral series.  This is likely to be my new writing focus.

March Review – other projects

I have made little effort with marketing during March.  In the first few days I put in quite a bit of work on AMS, as the new cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses was finally usable.  However, as the month progressed, it became clear the usual advertising channels were proving unstable. Purchasing and reading patterns are being greatly affected by the news.  Who needs to read fiction when you’re living through it?  However, at some point, reading patterns will return to normal.

I have continued research on a new historical series I am planning.  This background reading has the goal of searching for historical and locational information to lend the story greater depth.  It has been fascinating and a welcome distraction from the news.

Publishing schedule

· March 2020 – the new paperback for Blood, Mud and Corpses was released.

· Before the summer 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. Yes, I have moved the date again. I’ve simply looked at how unfocused I am at the moment.  All of the dates have been adjusted in light of this.

· April 2020 2nd ebook edition of Tigers on the Western Front, with the old cover for now

· Summer 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition

· Summer 2020 – book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series

· Late Summer 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

April plans

· Finish editing and upload 2nd edition of Tigers on the Western Front

· Continue outlining Butcher’s third book

· Not worry about word counts and instead focus on editing, with headway on ‘Dead Handler’.

· Continue to research the new series I’m working on

· Continue to learn about publishing and writing

· Write briefs for the next set of covers to be created